A hearing on gun control legislation in January drew more than 2,000 people to the state capitol in Olympia and Murrow College senior Emma Epperly was on hand to provide coverage for the Columbia Basin Herald in Moses Lake, Washington.
“A lot of the testimony was very emotional,” Epperly said. “It was a unique experience getting to watch people advocate for themselves on both sides of the aisle and how that translates into what you read over your morning coffee.”
Epperly and senior Ryan Blake are interning this semester for Murrow News Service, which pairs Washington State University students with professional news organizations to provide multi-platform content. Blake writes for the Spokesman Review.
Murrow News Service interns receive guidance and instruction from WSU professor Ben Shors, who oversees the news service, and they work directly with editors at their assigned papers.
“We basically throw them into the legislative session, and it’s sink or swim,” Shors said. “They find their way. They have some resources there to help them get set up, but we’re really looking for them to just step in and become journalists.”
Epperly, a native of Kalispell, Montana, said she applied for the internship because she wanted experience in government reporting. She is learning quickly in the fast-paced legislative setting about writing on deadline, interviewing politicians, and understanding complicated issues and policy making.
At the beginning of each week, Epperly and Blake review the legislative agenda and determine what stories they will follow. Epperly said she pitches story ideas to her editor in Moses Lake based on what interests her.
“It’s up to me to get interviews and push myself to get the story, which has been a huge learning experience,” Epperly said.
Blake said Murrow instructors have taught him the skills he needs to be successful. The Kennewick, Washington, native said his editor at the Spokesman Review has challenged him to get more information to make good stories even better.
“It’s helped me understand the connection between policies and localities, and how to tailor stories to the region I cover,” Blake said.
The experience in Olympia has helped Blake see the reach of Murrow College and the industry connections that are possible for students.
The program offers up to 12 credits and has operated each spring semester since 2011. Juniors and seniors are encouraged to apply.